Rockets are seeking better defensive effort against Clippers in Game 4

Rockets are seeking better defensive effort against Clippers in Game 4
Clippers forwardBlake Griffin loses control of the ball while driving against Rockets forward Terrence Jones in the first half ofGame 3 on Friday night at Staples Center. (Wally Skalij, Los Angeles Times)

They looked at the video at practice Saturday and the same nightmare they all participated in Friday night in Game 3 was right there again.

The Houston Rockets were horrible on defense.


So if they expect to have an opportunity to even the best-of-seven second-round playoffs series they trail, 2-1, the Rockets all agreed their defense must improve in Game 4 against the Clippers at Staples Center on Sunday afternoon.

“We’re gambling at half court, so that allows them to get easy points once again,” Rockets guard James Harden said after Houston practiced at the Lakers’ training facility in El Segundo.

“I think if we make them play against our set defense for 90% of the game, the game will be a lot different. But when we reach and gamble, then guys go around us. They get lobs, they get threes and their crowd gets into the game.”

From the start of Game 3, the Rockets didn’t guard much of anyone.

They gave up 33 points to the Clippers in the first quarter on 53.8% shooting. They gave up 64 points by halftime, stood around when the Clippers blitzed them for an 18-0 run in the third quarter and offered little resistance when the Clippers went up by 32 points in the fourth.

“It’s 100% our fault,” Harden said. “Obviously, like I said, they are a really good team. But I think if we make them play against our set defense, which I think they are making us do, this series should be a lot different. But like I said, it’s basically on us. We can control what we’ve got to go out there and do.”

The Rockets still want to attack on offense, and that means going to Dwight Howard and Harden more.

Howard had just 11 shot attempts in Game 3, and that needs to change, the Rockets say.

“We need to get him the ball more and do a better job of feeding him, a better job of giving him space,” Rockets Coach Kevin McHale said. “We went over it [Saturday] and it was one of the things that we wanted to make sure that we hit and work on.”

Harden took just 16 shots and five free throws in Game 3.

He’ll look to be more aggressive.

"I take control when I need to and I'm a playmaker when I need to be also," Harden said. "Like I said, the aggressive factor will take care of all of that, in a sense of just going out there and being a beast, basically."


Jason Terry said the flagrant foul 2 he was issued for his hard foul of pushing Blake Griffin in the back, which earned the Rockets guard an ejection in Game 3, was downgraded to a flagrant 1.


Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter: @BA_Turner